December 20, 2016

In September, Preserve Historic Missoula filed an appeal of the Missoula City Council’s decision to overturn the decision of their Historic Preservation Commission to deny a demolition permit for the Missoula Mercantile. Missoula’s historic property demolition ordinance encourages compromise when iconic buildings like the Merc are threatened. Its clear there are concepts that would integrate a hotel with a preserved Mercantile. 

The movement to preserve and redevelop historic buildings is an international effort to preserve irreplaceable history, and weave it all into the fabric of a thriving economy. Today, Montana’s cachet is attracting developers looking for investment opportunities. Montana may seem like the next big, undervalued market to them. But to us, it is home. Tourists don’t fly here to visit big box stores or fast food places -- they come for community, historic character, and eclecticism. People flock to destinations like Quebec City, Santa Fe, and Jackson Hole. Those cities know that preservation is smart business, and they have kept their past alive and their economies thriving. 

Travelers who come here love our slower pace and a chance to do it all – float the river, ride mountain bikes, ski, and then stay at historic hotels, grab lunch in hometown cafes, and poke around in authentic downtown shops.  

Once the wrecking ball swings, there is no way to replace the Merc. District Court Judge Dusty Deschamps will soon rule the appeal, and meanwhile, we thank Preserve Historic Missoula for standing fast. We hope at the end of the story, the Merc will still be there -- a cherished part of Montana for decades to come.